Earthen ‘Alchemy’ exhibits a portrait of artist

A buffet of home-cooked Italian food, including fried zucchini and mastaciolli, welcomed visitors to senior art student Enzina Marrari’s gallery opening Oct. 14.

The “Alchemy” show in the Student Union Gallery is filled with striking settings that inspire deep thinking. There is an eclectic display of objects that represent a metaphoric self-portrait of Marrari. The show is earthen and dim involving a confessional booth, dried leaves scattered across the floor, a bathtub full of water, a tree with ceramic bodies entangled within, hanging burlap bags and a workman’s bench.

A bathtub filled with water and leaves stands out immediately. Caroline Carnicelli, a ‘97 UAA art graduate, said the tub scene was familiar to her.

“I like the bathtub because it relates back to when I was growing up,” Carnicelli said. “There is something intriguing about the water and leaves in the bathtub that makes it an indoor, outdoor setting. The bathtub left me thinking about all of the things that could have happened with it.”

To Marrari, the bathtub represents the washing away of all those things that you carry inside. The leaves represent transformation because leaves embody a change of season.

Nine-year-old Luke Gunderson was impressed by the confessional booth.

“I like the invisible ink. You can turn on the light and the writing shows,” Gunderson said.

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The confessional booth is hung with bright red velvet. On the door, an aged and slightly burnt sign reads in calligraphy, “Step inside — Shut the door — Flip the Switch.” The inside is covered in confessions written by gallery visitors that light up when the black light is switched on.

As the line of confession goers formed outside, the inside quickly filled up with confessions that were mostly sexual but one read, “When I was born I was a great artist, now I feel like I’m trying to remember that.”

Marrari has interests in human rights, sexual health education and environmental issues, which are reflected in her art.

Art professor Steven Gofrey has had the opportunity to watch Marrari grow and change at UAA.

“In the past year her ideas have really developed. She thinks about her work a lot more seriously,” Gofrey said. “This show is a lot bolder, it’s almost like an abstract self narrative that is reflective of her life and it is left up to the viewer to decipher.”

Marrari said she began to be interested in art during high school in Carl Sandburg, Ill. nine years ago. Not sure if she wanted to major in art, she took an art appreciation class at UAA and excelled in it. It convinced her art was her passion. Marrari says her style has always been organic.

This show took her about three months to put together.

“There were a lot of technical details such as electricity that I had to figure out,” said Marrari. “I experimented with a lot of different mediums. It was a very purgative process and is a true reflection of me.” Marrari decided to not title her pieces because she wanted the show to be looked at as a whole rather than in individual sections.

One part of the exhibit involves five burlap bags hanging from separately designed iron hooks. Each bag has red water dripping into antique canisters. Marrari said that the burlap bags were supposed to represent our baggage.

“Essentially the things we carry with us are inside and over time it drains out of us,” Marrari said.

Trina Brosnan, a junior journalism and public communications student, said the dripping burlap bags were something you wouldn’t experience in everyday life.

“It was like something out of a horror movie,” Brosnan said. “It strikes me as something unnatural.”

Another part of the exhibit displayed an antiquated art easel with paintings done by Marrari’s father, a metalworker, and a workbench with tools and metal shavings. Carrying over the family-oriented scene was a skipping record of a man reciting Robert Frost’s “Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood.”

This multimedia gallery is a poignant addition to the Student Union Gallery. Make sure to stop by and add your confession to the confessional booth.

“Alchemy” runs through Oct. 28. The Student Union Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.